Playtime is often very underrated. It isn’t just something to keep your kids busy when you’re getting household chores done, or when you need a break from the homework for your school-going kid. Play is much more than that and covers several aspects of development in children. Summer time means play time, however keep reading to discover exactly how children learn through play, and how you, as a parent, can encourage and implement it especially during summer time.
How Do Children Learn Through Play?
Researchers and educators from all over the globe have found out a strong connection between children and play, and their growth and development both in terms of the mind and the physical body. There is a lot of evidence available today that confirms that the young minds of children grow best while they play. Creating and experimenting with different things can have a profound impact on their minds and can encourage them to explore and develop certain important skills that they need in life.
These new findings have turned out to be so meaningful that schools are now encouraging children to learn through what they like to call ‘meaningful play’ which allows them to explore and think independently while actually playing. Better memory, reasoning abilities, speech and communication skills have also been noted in children who were exposed to meaningful play. Many schools have started making changes to their curriculum to help their children learn through playing and as a parent, you can do the same to when your little one is at home.
Encouraging Learning Through Play In Kids
You may be surprised and happy to know that it is actually pretty easy to help kids learn during their playtime. Getting them interested in different activities can help them pick up valuable skills and develop in a much better way. This summer, I was very excited to partner with Melissa & Doug, to show other families how we use our toys while on vacation to encourage learning through play.
Toys for the Water
Summer time is the best time for water play, especially with high temperatures outside. This summer, the kids learned a very important new life skill – how to swim. At the beginning of the summer, none of the kids were actively swimming, but by the end of the summer all of them were swimming independently. They spent almost every day in the pool getting comfortable with the water and learning to conquer their fears as well as new swimming techniques.
In the beginning stages of learning to swim, the kids felt comfortable using the Spark Shark Kickboard in the Jacuzzi and the big pool. However, by the end of the summer, they were using the Shark Fish Hunt Pool and Taffy Seat turtles Catch and Hatch Pool Toy without any assistance in the big pool. Having water toys for the kids helped them get over their fear of water, and also encouraged them to enjoy the process of learning to swim.
Toys for Road Trips
We went on a fun road trip this summer visiting three national parks, Sequoia National Park, Yosemite National Park and Death Valley National park. Having toys in the car to keep the kids busy was very essential for this trip. The Water Wow Under The Sea Activity Pad is perfect because it allowed the kids to paint without any mess. They also loved using the License Plate Travel Game to spot different license plates.
The Zoo Friends Hand Puppets were so much fun and kept them entertained all through out our trip, and even after.
Toys for Planes or Trains
The kids were excited when I surprised them with a trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. They rushed to put on their Pilot Role Play Costume for the plane ride. When people asked why they were wearing costumes, they responded with “We aren’t just wearing costumes, we are pilots going to fly the plane.” I love how confident the kids felt wearing these costumes. Everyone at the airport including the pilots were so excited to chat with them about flying planes. Other great kids toys for plane and train rides are Pumpkin Tabby Cat Stuffed Animal, Jumbo Coloring Pad and a Wooden Airplane.
Toys for Rainy Days
Shockingly enough it rained this summer, which is quite rare in Los Angeles. After running around in the rain for a few minutes, the kids were excited to be able to have fun with their indoor toys such as the Wooden Stamp Deluxe Happy Handles, the Farm Animals Paint with Water Kids Art, the Feeding and Grooming Pet Care Play Set and the Catch And Count Magnetic Fishing Rod.
Both the boys and girls loved the Feeding and Grooming Pet Care Play Set so much so that they asked if they could get a real pet. The boys named the dog Max Jake and the girls named the cat Lady Sadie.
Toys for Outdoors
Encouraging your little one to take part in physical activities and play outdoor games that requires them to be active is another great way to boost development. Not only will these activities turn out to be an excellent outlet for energy, but they will also help develop motor skills, build muscle and learn coordination skills that. Outdoor play is fundamentally healthy and enabled children to learn to love their natural environment and that is the reason why it is one of the most important items on our homeschool curriculum, and the kids spend most of their days outside playing. From bike riding, to riding their scooters, to basketball and soccer.
The Chameleon Bean Bag Toss is a fun outdoor activity that the kids enjoyed. I even joined them and tried my luck at it too. The Splash Patrol Sprinkler was so much fun on our hot days, as well as the Tootle Turtle Bubble Bucket. I can’t count how many times I had to refill the bubble bucket with bubble solution.
The kids also enjoyed their first ever picnic and we used the Cutie Pie Butterfly Picnic Basket to pack all our food and utensils. The set comes with 4 plates, spoons, forks, knives and cups which was the perfect amount for the kids.
Toys for a Staycation
As much as we loved traveling this summer, there were some times when we stayed home and had a stay-cation which was much needed. We would explore our local city such as visit the park or children’s museum, and then return home and enjoy playing games such as the Monster Bowling Game. The kids loved the Deluxe Double-Sided Easel because they each got turns practicing writing. If you ask them what their favorite thing to do is, writing is at the very top.
A lot of parents don’t know this, but role-playing games and activities that require kids to imagine something too, are incredibly important when it comes to helping them learn. Not only are these activities fun to perform, but they also help boost your kid’s imagination and get them to understand more about emotions and their thought processes. Get them to use different toys and props to create different scenarios and let their imagination run wild. The Melissa and Doug Lemonade Stand is perfect for role play. The kids took turns selling and buying lemonade to each other with the Pretend To Spend Wallet.
Other Ways To Encourage Kids To Learn Through Play
Sorting games and activities are among the most loved playtime essentials, and yes, they have a huge impact in sharpening your little one’s mind. From building blocks, to shape sorters and jigsaws- get your little one some sorting games to play with- they help him recognize different shapes, and can improve his logic as well.
Sensory play is super important for children, especially in the early stages of development, and fortunately, you won’t ever run out of options for this one. You can find several great toys that encourage sensory play in children on Amazon such as kinetic sand, slime, dough, clay and you can always use some from your kitchen as well such as water, flour, pasta, seeds and more. Don’t forget the Mold Clay Activity Set when playing with Play-Doh.
Make sure to:
- Play games with your kids that include teams. This will help them learn how to coordinate with others, share and make friends.
- Include activities that include singing and playing musical instruments which can help them understand rhythm and improve their listening and hearing skills.
- Always have a bin full of materials for creative activities like drawing, painting and crafting can also help improve imagination in children.
It is important to note that even though play is actually a valuable learning process, it shouldn’t be overly monitored by parents and teachers. Letting kids do things their own way is a great process in itself, and it helps them learn faster, and better.
This post was sponsored by Melissa & Doug, however all opinions expressed are my own.